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Southern Weddings

Author: Kristin

March Madness has taken over the Southern Weddings office! Even though not everyone at SW considers herself a sports aficionado (ahem), we do live in the middle of Tobacco Road, and thought we should celebrate in style. Southern Weddings style, that is. Welcome to the 2014 Mason-Dixon Madness — a Southern food tournament!

Basketball mavens, we are not (at least not all of us), but everyone was more than willing to dress up in their favorite college colors and get outside on the courts last week for a little school spirit photo shoot. Since our office is located in the heart of ACC country, we had representation from all three schools in the Triangle (Emily = Duke; Morgan and Abbie = NC State; Lara, Grace, Nicole, and Kristin = UNC), along with some love for Big 12 Red River rivals, Texas and Oklahoma (Lisa and Meredith, respectively).

Admittedly, I am a bit biased, but I do think that this shade of blue is mighty pretty, and doesn’t Grace make the best SW mascot/Carolina cheerleader?

(It only took two tries to build this spirit pyramid!)

As the resident SW college basketball fan in the office, I boxed everyone out (lingo I learned from watching countless hours of games with KPW) for the chance to write these posts and to hang on the goal while we were taking pictures. Don’t worry, we all contributed to the cast of food and drink characters you see below, debating the relative qualities of Southern favorites at length to determine the rankings. We even learned a few things about one another in the process! Any guesses as to who fought hard for mac and cheese to make it deep into the tournament, or which gal is quite partial to pastries and rooted for beignets over pralines? (My sweet grandmama makes the best pecan pralines in Dixie, so it definitely wasn’t me.)

Our tournament begins with 64 of the best and brightest Southern favorites, divided by course so that pecan pie doesn’t go head-to-head with fried chicken in the first round. Each week, y’all will get the chance to weigh in on your favorite Southern delicacies until we whittle things down to the championship match-up on April 7th!

Will there be some upsets in the first round? How far will boiled peanuts and red velvet cake make it? It all depends on you, dear readers. P.S. Not familiar with some of these Southern gems? Check out our past Southern Delicacy columns or call your grandmama! Get educated, maybe have a taste test at home with your beau, and then pick your preferences from their head-to-head match-ups! First-round voting will be open until March 12, when we’ll set the winners up for the round of 32!

Feel free to print your own bracket (download it here), fill in your favorites, and see if you can pick the ultimate winner of the Mason-Dixon Madness. In full disclosure, I already have my favorite and I know I will be devastated if it goes out in the first round.

Invite your beau and your best friend to join in the fun and help us decide what will ultimately be named the best bite or beverage in Dixie! Take a break from wedding planning and spend some quality time with your favorite people debating the finer points of Southern cuisine. I’m betting you might learn a fun fact or two about your friends and family in the process. May the best food (or drink) win!

(RSS readers – click through to see the embedded poll!)

P.S. Photos by the always amazing Faith Teasley who is a lovely member of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory.

P.P.S. We owe big THANK YOUS to our significant others for their insight and input into the rankings and final 64 contestants, with a special shout-out to Taylor for spending an entire evening with Nicole debating the merits of foods–from collard greens to coconut cake–to make sure that the final field was fair and balanced!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
8 Comments
  1. avatar Graham reply

    This is so fun! I’m excited to see the results! I’ve got my Sweet Tea jersey on!!! :)

  2. avatar Lisa reply

    Here we go, mac and chesse, here we go!!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Deviled eggs all the way :)

  4. avatar Maghon reply

    As a fellow Carolina girl, I LOVE this post to pieces!

  5. avatar Abby reply

    Adorable! I know my picks of KY hot brown and Big Red may be long shots but I love this idea!

  6. avatar Sara Velordi reply

    This is wonderful! Y’all never cease to amaze me!

  7. avatar Erin reply

    This is the best idea!!! And it’s got my stomach rumbling for some biscuits and sweet tea!!

  8. avatar Five on Friday | 6 | Seeking Joy reply

    […] prize as the ultimate Southern food. You can play along, too, by helping vote for your favorites here! I have strong pulls for: BBQ, chicken & waffles, biscuits, mac n cheese, banana pudding, & […]

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Who says you can’t eat ice cream for dinner?

Or stop and have a random dance party while making supper?

Not I! Pet names, tickles fights, and goofy sing-alongs are also encouraged in my world. After all, one of the biggest privileges of adulthood is the ability to tiptoe back to childhood at the drop of a hat. Life as a grown-up can get serious, and sometimes a jump back into the joy and simplicity of youth is just what the doctor ordered. Y’all, I think I saved the best hint for last. Think of this as the cherry on top of the “helpful hints sundae” — it’s time to Be Silly.

Be silly” essentially means be yourself without worrying about what others might think — because at our core, we’re all a little silly, right? Let your hair down and have a little fun! While I don’t have pipes like Carrie or Mariah, I don’t hesitate to belt out a power ballad while cleaning the house or making supper. My husband, meanwhile, seems pretty quiet and reserved, but don’t let that fool you — he has his own knack for making up silly songs and singing them to me on road trips or while folding the laundry.

I love laughing with Kyle. I love making a batch of cookies at 10 o’clock just because we can. I love going on mini adventures. As children, this might have looked like creek stomping in the backyard. As adults, it might mean a day trip to an area mountain trail for a hike. Being silly isn’t really about being funny, though I guarantee at some point you’ll probably be breathless from laughing. No, it’s about being transparent and vulnerable with your spouse. The day-to-day expectations of life can be exhausting. I think it is important to be intentional about making sure that things don’t tip too far on the serious scale, and that you’re never too caught up in the go-go-go of life to take a little detour down the trail of spontaneity. Surprise each other!

So the next time it rains, consider whether it’s the perfect time to go jump in some mud puddles. Or maybe it’s the perfect night to put away the chicken, pull out the Blue Bell and have sundaes for supper. Or to crank up the tunes and have a karaoke sing-off as you clean the table.

This playfulness doesn’t have to just happen behind closed doors. Go play miniature golf instead of your standard dinner and movie date night. Explore the toy aisle at Target, pick out your favorite board game, and invite some friends over to play. Take a cue from The Bachelor (Emily, Lisa, and I are all huge fans) and go fly a kite.

I’d love to hear: What other ways do you have fun and be silly with your significant other? Share them below!

For now, we’ve reached the end of my hints for a happy marriage. I hope that y’all have enjoyed this as much as we have (yes, we – because my dear husband was consulted on each and every post, since I was sharing hints from our very own marriage). Kyle and I are by no means perfect, but we do think that there is value in protecting and cultivating our marriage and having a little fun while doing so. We laugh, we go on dates, we take vacations and we fight (fair). We talk, we try to be present and create space, and we share meals and perspective. And we care – a lot.

These hints are not a one-size fits all proposition, but a gentle reminder that after your big day, there is work still to do: after all, good, strong marriages can change the world!

Sweet engagement session by Blue Ribbon Vendor Graham Terhune — see the rest in Facebook Friday!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
3 Comments
  1. avatar Rachel reply

    Couldn’t agree more! I thank God all the time for giving me a husband who makes me laugh and isn’t afraid to be silly :) Hooray for a happy, fun marriage!

  2. avatar Anastasia Arrigo reply

    Very nice pictures, looks very naturally, I like it very much.

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] tickled pink to introduce the newest member of the Southern Weddings family! Kristin shared the eleventh (and final) hint in her Hints for a Happy Marriage series–it might be our favorite one. We love our Blue […]

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I am on a mission to make sure that the traditional family dinner doesn’t become a thing of the past. Why? Because I believe that eating dinner together (or any meal, for that matter – but we’ll get to that in a minute!) is a fundamental part of building and maintaining a relationship.

My and Kyle’s first date was to Chili’s, where we got to know each other over buffalo chicken sandwiches and sweet tea. Our get-to-know-you’s have continued over thousands of meals over the last ten years. After dating long distance for nearly six years, being able to sit down at the dinner table together on a random Tuesday night has been one of our favorite parts of married life. Because I want to share the dining love, it’s also our tenth hint for a happy marriage: Eat Dinner Together!

Conversations shared over plates of lasagna, without distractions, are my favorite.

I love to cook and Kyle loves to eat. This arrangement works out great for us. However, I happen to know that John does the cooking in the Thomas household. No matter who cooks — takeout is also an option! — the goal is sitting down at the dinner table to share a meal and conversation.

For us, it takes planning and sacrifice – I spend time meal planning and grocery shopping on Sundays, and of course cook meals during the week. Kyle is my sous chef when needed, and he also sets the table and helps clean up after supper. So yes, there’s time involved, but the reward is connectivity and an investment in our relationship (in addition to a tasty meal). We’ve figured out a plan that works for us and allows us to sit down at our table and eat together as many nights a week as we can.

Why do we make this a priority? We view dinner as an important time to engage and communicate. It’s where we talk through issues from the day so they don’t fester and come out in other, non-constructive ways (i.e., tell your spouse you had a bad day and why, rather than taking it out on them unannounced later). We talk about our days, our plans, our hopes and our dreams. Yes, really! Dinner conversations can get deep! We also tell stories and laugh — and occasionally, we sit at the table long after we’ve finished eating, not able to stop talking through this or that.

Sound incompatible with your current reality or schedule? Here’s the trick – figure out what works for you and your sig-o. I have a sweet friend that gets up early a few days a week to have breakfast with her husband because he travels. We actually live in a small town and Kyle comes home for lunch a few days a week because he has work conflicts in the evenings during football and basketball season. Whatever works – there’s nothing magical about the dinner hour, the magic is sitting down together with no other interruptions.

The great news is that this hint works for all relationships. I followed the same rules with my roommate and would love to have regular dinners with my parents if they lived closer. There’s just something so valuable about breaking bread and sharing conversation.

Schedules get crowded. Evenings get busy. But I promise the sacrifice is worth it. It might not happen every night, but making it a priority is important. I’d love to hear your tips for sharing meals together. Do you have great recipes to share? How do you protect your schedule so that you can eat a meal together?

Sweet engagement photos by Paige Jones, one of our delightful Blue Ribbon Vendors! See more on Facebook Friday!

P.S. New to the whole cooking thing and looking for some suggestions? Currently Kyle’s favorite suppers are crockpot lasagna and chicken squares with roasted Brussels sprouts.

kristin Written with love by Kristin
5 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I love this post! John and I eat dinner together every night, and it’s one of my favorite things! We’re always looking for new recipes, so I keep two separate Pinterest boards, one for recipes we’ve tried and loved, and one for recipes we want to try. If others are looking for suggestions, you can find them in my profile! http://www.pinterest.com/emformarvelous/ We also have tried lots of good ones from The Newlywed Cookbook by Chronicle Books!

  2. avatar Nicole reply

    I SO agree with this! The wonderful thing is that growing up, my parents were huge fighters for family dinners, which makes it a priority for me now. Taylor works a lot of nights, too, which is why one of our resolutions was to thoroughly plan our dinner dates so we could spend more time talking and less time deciding what to do.

  3. avatar Links I’m Loving | Jenn for JOY reply

    […] the wedding, I just love the “Hints for a Happy Marriage” series on Southern Weddings. This post on eating dinner together reminded me just how important it is for Paul and I to find time to eat together each week. Right […]

  4. avatar jenn reply

    I couldn’t agree more. Nothing better than sharing a meal. I have so many great family memories over meal times, I hope to give my future children the same… and I’m starting out by having with dinner with my new husband as much as we can. We also try to do breakfast. Even me getting up early to send him out the door with coffee and a breakfast bar helps us share some extra time together.

  5. avatar Southern Newlywed: In the Kitchen with Kristin Winchester + a Giveaway! – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] the week, as well as the ability to detour when something unexpected happens. It also helps protect regular meals at the table, which are incredibly important to […]

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